NASA News Digest: Space Science For 6 – 22 January 2016

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

The NASA News Service provides up-to-date announcements of NASA policy, news events, and space science. A recent selection of space science articles are provided below, including direct links to the full announcements. Those interested in receiving these announcements from NASA can subscribe to their service by sending an email to: hqnews-request@newsletters.nasa.gov?subject=subscribe

NASA’s CORAL Campaign Will Raise Reef Studies to a New Level

RELEASE 16-003 (Click here for the full article) – 6 January 2016

2016jan25_16_003A new three-year NASA field expedition gets underway this year that will use advanced instruments on airplanes and in the water to survey more of the world’s coral reefs in far greater detail than has ever been assessed before. The COral Reef Airborne Laboratory (CORAL) will measure the condition of these threatened ecosystems and create a unique database of uniform scale and quality.

Coral reefs, sometimes called the rainforests of the sea, are home to a quarter of all ocean fish species. They protect shorelines from storms and provide food for millions of people, yet very little of the world’s reef area has been studied scientifically. Virtually all measurements have been made by expensive, labor-intensive diving expeditions. Many reefs never have been surveyed, and those reefs that have been studied were measured only at a few dive sites.

“Right now, the state of the art for collecting coral reef data is scuba diving with a tape measure,” said Eric Hochberg, CORAL principal investigator and scientist at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, St. George’s. “It’s analogous to looking at a few trees and then trying to say what the forest is doing.”

To find out more about NASA’s Earth science research, visit: www.nasa.gov/earth

UPDATE: NASA Advisory Panel Releases 2015 Safety Report

RELEASE 16-004 (Click here for the full article) – 13 January 2016

2016jan25_asap_annualreportThe Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP), an advisory committee that reports to NASA and Congress, has issued its 2015 annual report examining NASA’s safety performance over the past year and highlighting accomplishments, issues and concerns to agency and government officials.

The report, released Wednesday, is based on the panel’s 2015 fact-finding and quarterly public meetings; “insight” visits and meetings; direct observations of NASA operations and decision-making processes; discussions with NASA management, employees and contractors; and the panel members’ own experience.

“The panel continues to steadfastly believe competition between Boeing and Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) is essential to achieving a safe and productive Commercial Crew program. The Orbital-3, SpaceX CRS-7, and Russian Soyuz/Progress 59 cargo accidents underscore this position,” said Joseph W. Dyer, retired U.S. Navy vice admiral and ASAP chairman. “The three cargo accidents, and resulting loss of resupply missions, yielded a challenging year for the International Space Station (ISS), but NASA’s planning and logistics stewardship of the ISS minimized impact and allowed for continued operations.

For more information about the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, and to view the 2015 report, visit: oiir.hq.nasa.gov/asap/index.html

NASA, NOAA Analyses Reveal Record-Shattering Global Warm Temperatures in 2015

RELEASE 16-008 (Click here for the full article) – 20 January 2016

Earth’s 2015 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern record keeping began in 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Globally-averaged temperatures in 2015 shattered the previous mark set in 2014 by 0.23 degrees Fahrenheit (0.13 Celsius). Only once before, in 1998, has the new record been greater than the old record by this much.

The 2015 temperatures continue a long-term warming trend, according to analyses by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York (GISTEMP). NOAA scientists concur with the finding that 2015 was the warmest year on record based on separate, independent analyses of the data. Because weather station locations and measurements change over time, there is some uncertainty in the individual values in the GISTEMP index. Taking this into account, NASA analysis estimates 2015 was the warmest year with 94 percent certainty.

The full 2015 surface temperature data set and the complete methodology used to make the temperature calculation are available at: data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/

The slides for the Wednesday, Jan. 20 news conference are available at: go.nasa.gov/2015climate

For more information about NASA’s Earth science activities, visit: www.nasa.gov/earth

NASA Remembers Its Fallen Heroes, 30th Anniversary of Challenger Accident

RELEASE 16-002 (Click here for the full article) – 22 January 2016

2016jan25_dor2015NASA will pay will tribute to the crews of Apollo 1 and space shuttles Challenger and Columbia, as well as other NASA colleagues, during the agency’s Day of Remembrance on Thursday, Jan. 28, the 30th anniversary of the Challenger accident. NASA’s Day of Remembrance honors members of the NASA family who lost their lives while furthering the cause of exploration and discovery.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Deputy Administrator Dava Newman, and other agency senior officials will hold an observance and wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia starting at 9 a.m. EST. Following the wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington, various NASA centers will hold remembrance events Thursday for employees and the families of those lost in service to America’s space program.

At 10 a.m., NASA Television will provide live coverage of a wreath-laying ceremony at the Space Mirror Memorial located at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. The observance is hosted by the Astronauts Memorial Foundation, which is a private, not-for-profit organization. It built and maintains the Space Mirror Memorial, which was dedicated in 1991 to honor all astronauts who lost their lives on missions or during training. It has been designated a National Memorial by Congress.

The agency also is paying tribute to its fallen astronauts with special online content available beginning Wednesday, Jan. 27 at: www.nasa.gov/dor

For NASA Television downlink information, schedule information and streaming video, visit: www.nasa.gov/nasatv

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